HAVE you noticed how organised life is these days? And it starts even before we’re born.
In my parents’ day, you fell pregnant, invited the midwife round to the house when the time was imminent, popped out the babe, and resumed life as normal a few days later. Dad was not involved. Well, not for about nine months anyway.
Now the whole thing is organised. There are pre-natal classes and nutrition classes and keep fit classes and child psychology classes for Mum AND Dad. There are baby showers to ensure your friends are involved and contributing. There are extensive shopping expeditions to make sure you have every conceivable baby gadget know to consumer marketing.
And that’s just the start. Then comes the child rearing part. Or more precisely, how to involve your child in every peer group pressured organised activity there is.
Take swimming, for instance. In my day, Dad would take you to the local pool and throw you in a couple of times. If you were lucky, you learned how to swim. Or in my case, you learned how to barely escape drowning with a pitiful survival doggy paddle, a stroke that I have barely improved since then. Now it’s an organised science, as I discovered when attending my grandchildren’s swimming classes the other day.
At one end of the pool were the babies, not yet walking but already discovering the perils of keeping your mouth open under water, their loving parents on the side encouraging the instructor to duck them again because the resulting gurgle was great fun. At the other end of the pool, the older kids were learning the strokes and breathing techniques that would undoubtedly take them to future Olympic glories and millions of dollars.
It was the same at netball, soccer, surf life saving, gymnastics, tennis and cricket. Masses of kids, masses of instructors, masses of parents and grandparents, masses of cars crowding the car park or surrounding streets.
In my day, we snuck off to kick a football around the local park or cheekily stuck a dustbin in the middle of the road as a wicket. No ma’am, it wasn’t me who broke your house window with that lusty stroke from the bat.
Take kids’ birthday parties. In my day, they might involve pass the parcel games in the backyard. Today they are organised events at the water slide park or the trampoline centre or a fast food restaurant.
Of course, there is merit in organised sport and games. I am much impressed with the discipline demanded of the kids taking part. Hundreds of little nippers at the surf life saving club on Bondi Beach and woe betide anyone not following instructions!
I just wish they would follow it through with the same sense of obedience at home!
Len Horne, writing from the Old Codgers’ Corner.